A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology found that being fourth in line for a job interview can help you land the job.
Having studied over 600 job interviews, the researchers discovered that the fourth person being interviewed gets the most attention from hiring managers, which makes them more likely to get hired.
It is an undeniable fact that making a good first impression is crucial during interviews, however, interviewers do not normally judge an applicant or interviewee in the first few seconds of the interview.
“People always assume that most interviewers make assessment about job applicants at the very beginning, which seems to be overstated,” the researchers say.
Decision making takes the longest time in the fourth interview
According to the study, it takes an interviewer about five minutes to make a decision for the first candidate, and get to nearly eight minutes by the fourth one. After interviewing the fourth candidate, the amount of time interviewers need for decision begins to drop with each additional interview.
“Interviewers normally spend longer time on evaluating applicants at the beginning of their interview schedule and the time needed to evaluate applicants tends to drop towards the end of their schedule.”
The scientists assume that interviewers will start doing two things immediately for each interview after the first one–(1) process information about the candidate they are interviewing and (2) subsequently recall information from the previous interviews. These two procedures not only let them make comparisons across candidates, but also take a toll on the way they process information and make decisions.
Mental shortcuts kick off after the fourth interview
After interviewing the fourth candidate, further information processing from the present and all previous interviews become too mentally demanding. Therefore, the interviewer will unintentionally start taking mental shortcuts.
As the research highlights, mental shortcuts and automatic processing “may prevent applicants who appear later in the schedule from having a full opportunity to perform.”
In view of the above findings, the fourth candidate is proven to stand a better chance to make a positive impression and get hired.